As Boston College baseball formed its high-five lines in left field for the third time this weekend, the players weren’t focused on congratulating one another. The lines quickly dissipated, as a group of guys removed their hats and brushed their newly-shaved heads, pointing and grinning at their own dugout.
Joe Cronin and Scott Braren started the trend less than two weeks ago, shaving the sides of their heads to form mohawks. It slowly spread across the team, building up to Friday night’s series opener against Georgia Tech. After a win that night, head coach Mike Gambino received a text from former Birdballer Pete Frates: “I’m pumped!” with a picture of Frates’ own mohawk. Gambino sent it out to his team and was almost immediately pestered to join in.
The coach, who enforces hair standards similar to George Steinbrenner’s clean-cut Yankees, put off the conversation until after Saturday’s game—also a BC win. That night, he made a deal with his guys: if they swept Georgia Tech (24-15, 9-12 ACC) the following day, he would join in with the new haircut. After BC baseball (21-18, 9-11 ACC) wrapped up a 4-0 win Sunday, the players weren’t about to wait long for their reward. Even as Gambino was still speaking with the media on the field, right-handed reliever Luke Fernandes stood poised in the dugout, electric razor in hand and stool at the ready.
“I don’t know who was more unhappy, my staff—cause I said the whole staff [also had to get a mohawk]—or my wife,” Gambino said.
Left-hander Jesse Adams did all he could to ensure his coaches’ short trip to the barber, delivering seven innings of shutout baseball. He retired the first 20 batters in order, taking a perfect game into the seventh. When Georgia Tech’s Matt Gonzalez hit a sharp ground ball down the third base line, it looked like he would have his 21st consecutive out of the day, as third baseman Jake Palomaki grabbed the ball at the bag and gunned a strike to first base.
The umpire at third, however, ruled the ball foul. On the next pitch, Gonzalez took advantage. The three-hole hitter blasted another shot down the line over the reach of Palomaki and took second with a double. With just a 1-0 lead, BC went from defending a perfect game to defending its chance at a win.
“It’s very easy to then go boom, boom, boom, now it’s 1-1,” Gambino said. “[Jesse] didn’t, boom, gets the next guy. Awesome.”
Adams struck out pinch hitter Grant Wruble on seven pitches, ending his day with seven strikeouts, no walks, and the one hit by Gonzalez. Gambino would have kept Adams going, he said after the game, had the Eagles not rallied in the bottom half.
Logan Hoggarth got it started with a base knock. After Gabriel Hernandez was caught looking, Johnny Adams blasted a triple over the head of the center fielder. On the next play, with leadoff man Jake Palomaki at the plate, Gambino gave a sign that is practiced in baseball far more than it’s used: the suicide squeeze.
“Jake is obviously great with the bat and he’s also a good bunter,” Johnny Adams said. “He got a great pitch to do it on and he executed perfectly.”
Georgia Tech’s starter, Brandon Gold, tried to make the play at home, but Adams scored easily. That ended the day for Gold, who still took home a quality start of 6 2/3 innings and three earned runs, Georgia Tech could not help out its starter. John Nicklas and Justin Dunn came in to close the door in the final two innings for BC, which outhit the Yellow Jackets 8-to-2.
The Ice Bucket Challenge may be long-over, but Frates’ presence is still impactful as ever for BC baseball. Saturday’s game marked the Annual ALS Awareness game, at which Frates made an appearance on Shea Field. Now, he has helped inspired the new mohawk trend for BC baseball—one which will likely remain as long as BC keeps finding the win column.
Featured Image by Amelie Trieu / Heights Staff